Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Thune on COVID-19 Bill  CSPAN  March 5, 2021 8:51am-9:01am EST

8:51 am
pandemic. this is our chance. we have no greater responsibility than to put an end to this pandemic, put the economy on its feet, get the kids back in school and the grandparents visit those grandkids again. that is part of getting america back where it needs to be. we need bipartisan support, as democrats we provided that support to our republican president. now that we haveur a democratic president, will a republican senators do the same? i yield the floor. >> mr. president, lesson too much to go in his inauguration president beit biden spokes deep commitment to bringing americans together. today the senate will consider the first major bill of his presidency, and intensely partisan piece of legislation. why is the bill before us todayt so partisan, mr. president? >> it's not because republicans were unwilling to cooperate with democrats on covid legislation. in fact, in fact, republicans made it very clear that we
8:52 am
willing to work with democrats. the bill before us today is so heavily partisan because democrats didn't want to work with republicans. democrats saw an opportunity to use the covid crisis to advance a whole host of liberal priorities. they were afraid to allow republicans to participate in the process would mean some other pet projects would be excluded. or that they wouldar have to pae back some of their moree spending. democrats decided to use reconciliation to ensure that republicans wouldn't be able to interfere with their democrat legislation. and let's be very clear about the nature of that legislation, mr. president. democrats would like to present this as a covid bill. it's not. yes, there are a handful of true covid priorities in this legislation like more money for vaccines and coronavirus treatment come something i think everybody on both sides of the aisle supports. but the bulk of this bill is
8:53 am
either non-covid related or ostensibly covid related but actually either unnecessary or excessive. on the non-covid front there's the $86 billion bailout for multi employer pension plans. the billions for climate change and other environmental policy issues. a new taxpayer-funded l.e.a.d. program for government employees with no requirement that it be used for covid-19. and i could go on, mr. president. the version of the bill that came over from the house contain such a non-covid related measures as $100 million for an underground rail project in the house speakers home state. $1.5 million for a bridge in the democratic leaders home state. plus a massive increase in the federal minimum wage that would cost an estimated 1.4 million jobs according to the congressional budget office, and
8:54 am
potentially potentially devastate small businesses already reeling from the effects of the coronavirus. and then there are the ostensibly covid related measures like $350 billion for states. what's the big problem there? states don't need anywhere near that much money to whether the rest of the pandemic. the vast majority of states are not in crisis. and rescuing those states that are not in crisis would not take anywhere close to 350 billion. democrats are going to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary giveaway to states. and on top of that, mr. president, that giveaway is heavily, heavily weighted in favor of blue states. that's right, the distribution formula is designed to heavily favored democratic states.
8:55 am
then there is the money for schools. republicans have been very willing to give schools money to help them reopen. in fact, last year when republicans were in the majority, which by the way during that time we passed by covid related bills, all with bipartisan cooperation and support, at the 60 vote level we use in the senate for most legislation that we take uput under regular order, but we put a lot of money into giving schools money to help them reopen. in fact, republicans voted for $68 billion for k-12 schools. at this point, mr. president, that money is sufficient. schools have spent just $5 billion of the 68 billion we billion we've already provided. let me repeat that. so far, schools have spent just $5 billion or less than 10% of the 68 billion that has already
8:56 am
been given to them. if the democrats the would appropriate an additional $129 billion for schools, 95% of which, mr. president, would be spent after this year. the year of the crisis, the year of emergency, the year at the pandemic you would think if this was a crisis that the funding would be made available to be used this year, but it's not. it's spent in the years 2022- 2022-2028. the democrats really expect americans to believe that school dollars that won't be spent until 2027 or 2028 are urgently needed coronavirus response dollars? this is the pattern with this bill though, mr. president. we just passed a large coronavirus relief bill in december, the fifth coronavirus relief bill congress has passed,
8:57 am
and a lot of the money from that though hasn't been spent yet. fact a lot of money from earlier coronavirus bills hasn't been spent. yet democrats are throwing massive additional amounts of money and berries recipient with no clear idea of what not that money will be needed or in some cases, when we know very well that that money isn't needed. mr. president, republicans will be introducing amendments to the democrats. i'm introducingat an amendment r a freeze on the coronavirus food assistance program which has provided support for farmers and ranchers have been hit hard by the pandemic. i hope some of my last extreme democrat colleagues will join republicans to advance some of our amendments like senator graham to change the distribution formula for states to the formula used in the bipartisan cares act which passed unanimously here in the senate so that both red and blue
8:58 am
states would get a fair shot at funding, or amendments to remove those provisions that are no way related to covid relief. unfortunately, mr. president, democratic leaders have made it very clear that they're not willing to entertain republican ideas so i don't have a lot of confidence the republican amendments, even if adopted, will end up in the final bill. mr. president, it's deeply disappointing that pretty much the first thing democrats did this congress was to take a bipartisan process, coronavirus relief, and make it partisan. all t five of all five of the coronavirus bills that congress has passed to date, last year, republicans were in the majority, were bipartisan. this bill could have been bipartisan, too. the democrats decided the republicans and the americans that they represent should not have a voice in this
8:59 am
legislation. isn't this what the rest of the biden presidency is going to look like -- is this going to look like? i sure hope not because it will be really hard, really hard to come up with solutions that are durable and that represent the middle of the country, those people whose voices, voices are not heard in the legislation that we will be taking up today. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> you are watching c-span2, your unfiltered view of government. c-span2 was created by america's cable-television companies, and today we're brought to you by these television companies who provide c-span2 to viewers as a public service. >> the u.s. senate is meeting today to begin debate on the nearly $2 trillion covid-19's relief bill. lawmakers have agreed to reduce the 20 hours of debate to three
9:00 am
hours and will consider several amendments to the bill. also some of the bills provisions may be challenged as violating senate budget rules. we are expecting votes to start right after the debate concludes this afternoon and you can see it all as we go live now to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. ing officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, who rules the raging of the sea, use our lawmakers to bring stability to our nation through wise and knowledgeable leadership. remind them to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on